portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary portland metro

community building | neighborhood news

A Community in Flux

The Mississippi Avenue neighborhoods are once again under seige by the forces of "development" and "urban renewal". But rather than community building, these forces aim at community replacement. Those moving into the Boise neighborhood should we aware of the history of neglect and displacement that haunts Mississippi Avenue and the neighborhoods which surround it.
Mississippi Avenue, and the Boise neighborhood, is once again facing the forces of "Urban Renewal". A neighborhood that has overcome many struggles in the past, which have disturbed and displaced its residents, is now losing the economic battle over its homes, businesses and its parks. Situated high upon the bluffs of North Portland, its easy access to downtown, isolated residential streets and the existing commercial buildings that line the avenue, all make the Mississippi Avenue area attractive to young, upwardly-mobile, urban professionals who are seeking a place to settle down. But with these young families comes the force of Urban Renewal, and ultimately gentrification, with far-reaching implications on existing families
The Boise neighborhood, long before acquiring this name, was inhabited predominantly by middle-class German families. Mississippi Avenue, as it now exists, is only part of the original avenue though. The avenue once followed straight down the hill into the lower Albina area, lined with homes and businesses. This area was filled primarily with working-class Swedish families, who labored in the adjacent Albina Railyards.
During World War II the industrial building yards around Portland were built up as part of the war effort, especially shipbuilding yards along the Columbia and train capacities across the Northwest. This industry brought poor families from the rural South, looking for work and a new place to call home. Many of these families found homes in Vanport, a federal housing project near the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers. A complete city of, at one time, 80,000 residents, it was noted for being the most racially diverse city in Oregon, and the highest number of African-American residents in the Pacific Northwest. But in 1948, a massive flood broke through the levees along Vanport flooding the town so quickly that evacuation was nearly impossible. Many blame the Kaiser group (whose shipyards were main employers of the residents), for stalling the warnings of insecure levees, as well as the city and state for negligence of allowing the disaster to happen. In all, 15 people were killed, dozens seriously injured, and 18,000 were left homeless. Many of the African-Americans relocated to the relatively close Albina neighborhood.
Almost overnight the Mississippi Avenue neighborhoods became predominantly African-American, as well as those along Williams Vancouver, and Martin Luther King Boulevard, from Russell Street to Killingsworth. Many of the Vanport families also moved into the housing between Broadway and Burnside, known as Sullivan's Gulch.

The automobiles introduction had harsh impacts on the neighborhood, as it did in cities across America. Those families who were able to afford the suburban flight, made it, while those who lacked the means were left behind, living in forgotten urban neighborhoods. With business following out to the surrounding beltways of the city, people left in these urban neighborhoods were left without work, without services and without the attention of city officials -that is until "urban blight" became a political issue. Urban blight was a term used to describe the conditions of these forgotten city neighborhoods that had become economically depressed during the post-war years. Low-income areas were described as "low tax bases", making it easier for officials to deny repair to streets and parks, fueling the decay of urban neighborhoods. By the mid-1950's urban neighborhoods across America acquired reputations as dangerous places where the new suburban middle class feared to visit.
What this meant to residents was a feeling of being trapped in their own neighborhoods, with little recourse to revitalize their homes, businesses or parks. Lending was denied to these residents for economic development of any kind, as it was labeled risky to invest in businesses or homes that were in these "red-lined" areas. Banks literally drew maps with pre-denied neighborhoods blocked off by red lines to be used when considering loan applications.
What this meant for city officials was a chance to win political support from developers and removed suburban voters by opening these depressed areas for re-development, or "Urban Renewal". Large projects were undertaken in attempts to draw suburban families back into the city, if only to spend their money. Here in Portland, the Lloyd Center shopping mall, the Fremont Bridge and the Minnesota Freeway were all major urban renewal projects, aimed at bringing shoppers back into downtown. Unfortunately for the residents of these urban neighborhoods, each of these projects displaced hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of families.
One of the early renewal projects of this era in Portland was the Lloyd Center shopping district. This project, completed in 1960 undertook the redevelopment of dozens of blocks of housing. Along side the construction of Interstate 84, which ran directly through Sullivan's Gulch, the neighborhoods in the renewal area were easy candidates for redevelopment. The displaced families had little to defend them from the developers' claims, and were quickly forced to leave their homes. Many of them relocated into the Lower Albina neighborhood.
Ironically, the construction of the Coliseum, only a few years later, was aimed at the area between Broadway and Interstate 84. This effectively displaced many of those same families who had been moved during the Lloyd Center's construction. With little choice left, many of them settled in the Mississippi neighborhoods and further up in Northeast neighborhoods.
The building of the Minnesota freeway was probably the most detrimental single project of Portland's urban renewal, as far as Mississippi Avenue is concerned. Not only did the building of the freeway require the demolition of hundreds of houses, it created a blockade between once contiguous sections of neighborhood. The neighborhoods between Interstate Avenue and Mississippi Avenue were once open and inviting for foot traffic or residents looking to visit either retail area. The freeway, with its monstrous size and speed, virtually killed both avenues overnight. The remaining homeowners on either side were also left to face lead emissions in their air and soil and the roar of speeding cars throughout the day and night. Mississippi Avenue was redirected under the freeway cutting off the remaining bit of Lower Albina and further isolated Mississippi from the surrounding neighborhoods.
So when Kaiser Permanente Hospital began to bid with the city to redevelop the land between Russell Street and Fremont along Williams Avenue, it is no surprise that residents refused to move from their homes. Facing police force some families barricaded themselves in homes and some organized and marched into the construction zones. Some even lined Williams, throwing bottles at passing motorists in an attempt to gain media attention to the problems facing them. Ultimately though, these families were all forced to leave their home, once again relocating further up in North and Northeast neighborhoods.
Finally when the Fremont Bridge was constructed, between 1971-73, the eastside on-ramp displaced some of the last remaining residents in the neighborhoods below the current Boise neighborhood. Again, some families protested the project, but as in previous projects they had little opportunity to affect the decisions. Some were fortunate enough to be moved only a few blocks up into the adjacent neighborhood along Mississippi Avenue.

So what we face today along Mississippi Avenue is hardly a new issue. The forces of Urban Renewal are hard at work again to "rescue" a neighborhood from "blight" and "decay". In the interests of business we are seeing the redevelopment of block after block of commercial, industrial and residential lots along Mississippi, drawing in new residents and raising property values throughout the neighborhood. The median income of residents has risen quickly over the last few years, which increases tax-bases, forcing the city to complete long-overdue maintenance on streets and parks. The rising economic values on the properties of the Boise neighborhood cause the land taxes of adjacent properties to rise as well. These increased taxes and fees often become harder for elder residents to afford; that is to say, they have not become more prosperous just because the neighborhood has become more prosperous. The increased costs of living, coupled with the influx of a new, more affluent "gentry class" of people makes the neighborhood, which they have lived in through the times of red-lining and economic isolation, become uninviting.
Mississippi is rife with a history of displacement, resentment, and flux.
Of course, without discounting the Native Americans who lived along the bluffs in what is now North Portland, several communities have undergone displacement from this neighborhood. What was, during the 1950's, a dim-lit street of be-bop clubs and was abandoned by the city as a "blight" is now being rediscovered as new boutiques, coffee shops and cafes. The character of a place is defined by the acts that occur there. Those moving into the neighborhoods along Mississippi should be wary of the cycles of gentrification and its negative ramifications. And those opening businesses within the neighborhood should try to consider the residents of the area before the profits that can be won.

question about the history of moving TO mississippi area 11.Apr.2005 10:49

curious

i am curious about something, and wondering if you know. i count FOUR times in this given history where african americans move into (roughly) the boise neighborhood: after the vanport flood (presumably in fairly large number?), after the lloyd center/I-84 creation, after the kaiser hospital creation, and finally, after the fremont bridge creation.

what i am curious about is who was in the neighborhood BEFORE they moved into there? had it been completely abandoned and houses were just derelict (like, say, detroit)? or what is the story?

i have heard many times about the history of the city once called albina, but it always goes something like: it was full of germans and swedes ... (time passes) ... then all the african americans kinda got pushed there. i am wondering if anyone knows what happened in between?

thanks! and thanks for this summary.


contiguous history... 11.Apr.2005 12:44

bvillain

I have noticed the same gap, but have found little to explain it. I have read references to the PDC meetings in which decisions were made on where, exactly, to place certain ethnic groups. In one case, in the early 1950's, the chairman of the PDC (whose name i cannot recall) stated that his intention was to designate the Ladd's Addition neighborhood to Chinese immigrants who were left after the completion of the Empire rail line and Seattle to Portland rail connection. In the same meeting he stated his intent to designate the Lower Albina neighborhoods to African American residents who had arrived in town but found opposition to their presence in many areas in town. This leads me to believe that the city was already viewing Albina as as undesirable area by the 1950s. The only area African Americans were living in any numbers prior to the construction of Vanport was in Northwest Portland, near the West end of the Broadway Bridge. And the hotels of downtown supplied them with sub-living-wage jobs.
I can only imagine that the old residents of Albina who were able (ie: the middle-class Germans) had left the area, and the Swedish residents were very reliant on work, and may very well have moved out in search of work in other areas of town. The Port of Portland was already migrating North along the river closer to the Columbia, so it may be that the Swedish workers moved further North. I can't give you any definites though. Sorry.

excellent work, bvillian! 11.Apr.2005 13:34

spArkle

this is a really impressive bit of research and history, well organized and written. it's good to be reminded about the constant cycles of oppression that have been pushed on people by "the modern world" and autoculture and big institutions. the story of what happened here in portland is repeated in cities all over the country, and the winners and losers are always the same. only the names are different.

on a related note, the green party is having video screenings at RedWing Cafe every thursday, and here's one of the upcoming ones:

"4/21 Taken for a ride - How GM and the Auto industry funded secret companies to privitize and then neglect public city rail lines. This riveting independent film is a must see for anyone who is a transit activist."

sounds like this will hit on a lot of the same themes.

more info on the event:
 link to protest.net

looking for more? 11.Apr.2005 13:56

turkeysalad

hey thanks for the great post, there is some earlier history of the area at  http://www.volgagermans.net/portland/. good pictures too. just scroll down and click on the orgins tab and the albina tab. some good stuff! U-Betcha

Drug Houses Face Threat of "Displacement" and "Gentrification" 11.Apr.2005 16:07

Resident

As a resident of the Boise neighborhood for 14-plus years, I find the ethnic history interesting. I bravely moved to a struggling neighborhood, and when shortly thereafter boarded-up houses were being repaired and new construction was filling in weed-filled vacant lots, I took that as a good sign; you don't build new houses is declining neighborhoods.

But as neighbors worked hard to improve the neighborhood, the drug houses had the opposite effect. I don't think that "displacement" of crime is such a bad thing. I don't think that fixing up abandoned storefronts and opening thriving community businesses is a tragedy for the neighborhood. I don't think that creating a vibrant commercial strip where once residents feared to go is "displacement." To compare revitilization with the destruction of freeway construction is totally inaccurate.

Yes, displacement of lower-income residents is an issue. Displacement of drug houses is not such a tragedy. Many lower-income residents have benefited by seeing their property values increase, thus enriching their net worth. Renters, of course, are not enriched, but that's true regardless of whether they live in a poor or wealthy neighborhood. It is the opinion of the Boise Neighborhood Association that we already have more than our share of low-income housing and that other neighborhoods need to do their part to provide a mix that includes low-income housing. It shouldn't all be concentrated in just a few neighborhoods.

I'm happy to see the "displacement" of crime. I'm happy to be able to walk to restaurants and coffeeshops where once there was only blight. That is no "threat" to the neighborhood.

this neighborhood has improved so much 11.Apr.2005 16:44

that I'm getting evicted! yay!

> Yes, displacement of lower-income residents is an issue.

Rising property values mean rising rents. This is an instance of extra money flowing from one group's pockets into another group's pockets. What's good for party A is bad for party B, and vice versa. Any discussion of what's "good for a neighborhood" that doesn't deal head on with these diametrically opposed class interests is liberal bullshit.

Fat Cats, Bigga Fish 11.Apr.2005 16:53

The Coup

Mr Coke said to Mr Mayor:
'You know we have a process like Ice-T's hair.
We put up the funds for your election campaign
and oh, um, waiter can you bring the champagne?
Our real estate firm says opportunities arousing
to make some condos out of low-income housing
Immediately we need some media heat
to say that gangs run the street
and then we bring in the police fleet
harrass and beat everybody til they look inebriated
when we buy the land motherf*ckers will appreciate it
Don't worry about the Urban League or Jesse Jackson
My man that owns Marlboro donated a fat sum.'

Switch focus from complaining to doing 11.Apr.2005 17:29

Twila

I see a bunch of complaints and no solutions.

Why not continue efforts of worthy institutions like Habitat for Humanity and get displaced people into home ownership. It is harder to evict a person from their own home.

Why not start lobbying businesses of affordable usable services to come into the area?

Why not buy as many properties as you can and help be the solution? rent 'em for less. There are landlords who have kept rentals cheap despite the potential for more $$. One next door to my place, in fact.

And yes, some people have been displaced.

And yes, there are fewer shootings on the street.

And yes, may of us neighbors can't afford to go to the new restaurants.

And yes, change is hard.

So what can we DO about it?

cracker wannabe pollyanna 11.Apr.2005 18:50

polly wanna cracker

> Why not continue efforts of worthy institutions like Habitat for Humanity
> and get displaced people into home ownership.

Are you talking about making "home ownership" so accessible that there will be no renters? Of course not. You can't make ownership more accessible without reducing property prices. IT'S THE SAME THING. That's what it MEANS. This is not a solution, this is just a restatement of the problem that what's good for you is bad for me, and vice versa. Habitat for Humanity one of many well-meaning distractions from the basic antagonism built into the economy.

We're complaining and not "doing" anything because doing anything means preventing owners from exercising their "rights" to do shit to US. Which is criminally revolutionary behavior. The cops show up, and if you don't go quietly they kill you.

Where have all the Swedes gone? 11.Apr.2005 19:07

NoPo

I have just read the Slaughter of Cities and if what happened in Chicago, Philadelphia,Detroit and Boston is any clue I imagine once African Americans starting being directed into Boise by the ruling ethnic class in Portland at the time it was to break up the growing immigrant concentration of power of the Swedes and Germans. Who took off because any neighborhood that became a little black was soon all black, and property values dropped dramatically. So the Germans, Swedes retreated to the suburbs losing their ethnic ties and political power. The African Americans were shuffled around to drive the ethnics to the suburbs, marginalizing their influence and power but to drive the emerging suburban economy. The African Americans were a tool to develop urban renewal projects. Portland is probably not as in a bad shape as other cities because the powerbrokers in Portland were working with a smaller African American population to shuffle around and disrupt ethnic neighborhoods while making sure that they were barred from their own more elitist neighborhoods, African Americans themselves became marginalized themselves not long after moving into a neighborhood by a large urban renewal project later on. The large urban renewal projects weren't accidents in their locations, I heard in the 1970's the only jewish synagogue just happened to be in the path of one of the freeways that were built and very few are in the paths of condos.
I think home ownership for whites in Portland is 59% while for blacks it is 38%. Sally Mae and the other big lenders have dramatically reduced lending to African Americans in the 1990s. It seems the problem is not that areas are being gentrified, but not everyone is able to partake.

Cheap Tickets to Mississippi 11.Apr.2005 23:38

turkeysalad

our neighborhood is turning into a resort. the majority of the people who come to mississippi avenue are tourists. they come because they think its cool. they drive across town or bike from nearby neighborhoods looking for something new and fresh, a place to see people and a place to be seen. SORRY, this is where i live, this is my home, this is not your playground. A once very diverse neighborhood is becoming very plain. we want a street that serves and represents the people who live here.the majority of people who live in this neighborhood have no reason to go to mississippi. no grocery, no book store, no health services, no hardware store, no ethnic food shops to cater to any of the many cultural backrounds represented in this community. no new buisness has come to serve the community that exsits here. people in this neighborhood have to drive or bike to other parts of town to buy food, see a doctor, buy household supplies while the tourists sit on our street sipping lattes or waiting in line to eat a 12 dollar meal. thats fucked. Some may ask, "why don't you people open up those types of places yourselves?" because we are poor, and there are too many rich people trying to make money. and our society is set up to honor the rich and kick out the poor. so what can we do? well its gotta happen quick, i know, i know, revolution! that would be great but there's gotta be a better way, what could it be?

the answer is the same as always... 12.Apr.2005 03:08

bvillain

organize.
we, the people, have little choice but to do what others before us have done to overcome oppression: organize and create the systems we can support. Our affordable housing crisis: organize with other people you know and buy a house. RENT IS A RIPOFF! i know, you'll be paying a mortgage instead, but on a house you can stand up for. and if you want services you can stand behind: organize and provide those services. the entire idea behind the problems on Mississippi Avenue is that if white middle-class people can open enough destination, luxury businesses, then more white middle-class people will move into the area to populate it. But if we want to take a stand then we need to create the institutions which will support us and help us dig our heels in here. And if diversity is important to us, then we need to support it in those institutions.
Hate capitalism? put out free stuff for other people to enjoy, and ask them to do the same. hate yuppie eateries? host potlucks and invite the neighborhood into your house to eat and have fun for free. hate economic isolationism? help people in your neighborhood accomplish tasks which they cant afford to do otherwise.
dont follow the carrot thats dangling in front of your face. stop dreaming of owning your own home. that middle-class dream will only leave you isolated and lonely in a whitewashed neighborhood. create new models. organize.

and Resident, please dont inflate your own ego by refering to yourself as "brave" by moving into a neighborhood which was predominantly minority. i have no doubt, NO DOUBT, that you moved in on the hunch that home ownership here would be a good financial investment. you admittedly didnt move here for the community or the services, so what other reason could you have had. exploiting rising property values by buying low, even if they are not guranteed, is never a valiant endeavor. so please get off your high horse and realize that you were a first wave gentrifier, buying a home in hopes that these "drug-houses", as you call them, would be swept away to another neighborhood where you could pretend they dont exist. those people, after all, are just casualties of your economic war.

we shall be moved 12.Apr.2005 08:05

nowaynohow

i've rented here for a long time, and raised my kids here as a single mom. our family's benefitted from the community of neighbors around us. i couldn't have made it without them. many have moved to vancouver for cheaper rents. homeowners from before the gentrification don't allways profit off of it. i've seen quite a few foreclosures around me stemming from people taking out second mortgages and not being able to pay up. i hope i can stay here for a while, but i fear that vancouver or gresham is my destiny as well. my kids who grew up here won't be able to mantain connections with the community they grew up in. because trendy joe nonprofit executive director and his wife lawyer sue want to move into a hip house, the house my friend got foreclosed on.

also, poor people need to live in neighborhoods that are easily accessible to the rest of the city too. what are lawyer sue and trendy nonprofit director joe going to do without the working poor who empty their trash and clean their toilets? the working poor are going to be less and less able to run their own cars and will depend even more on public transit. it's hard to get from the vancouver to sw pdx on a bus in anything like a fast commute. of course lawyer sue and her hubby joe could clean their own toilets, but they don't like getting dirty, you know.

oh, and resident, i'm so glad you graced the hood with your bravery. i don't know what we would have done without you, you vanguard, you.

whatever 12.Apr.2005 08:56

nowaynohow

b villian, thanks for alll the helpful info,, but poor people have been organizing around this.

poor people can't afford houses because of the downpayment and the inability to get credit for morgages. most of us have bad credit because we're juggling bills around and alot of us are uninsured.

and i'm here to tell you that we do share, have potlucks, barbeques, block parties, we help each other out ALOT. or didn't you know that? we also provide as many services as we can to each other, ride services, healing services, counseling, gleaning, gardening, mechanic-ing.

but what you are failing to see is that poor people are busy doing all this stuff on top of working crazy hours to support our families at minimum wage. it's not about us not organizing. this is about the middle class failing to take responsibilty for theor part in the isolationist, individualistic, materialistic system and disrupting our communities while theyre at it. this is about tom potter, vera katz, the pdc and all the other big guys playing politics. this is abbout banks. this is about agrobusiness. this is about multinational corporations.

we organize, you know.

organization... 12.Apr.2005 10:39

bvillain

nowaynohow, you missed my point altogether. if you are already doin these things, congratulations. i was offering advice to the post which asked for ways to move forward. i recognize that it isnt always possible to organize, and that not everyone has the means to accomplish all of their goals. i am also an uninsured, working northportland resident, and i am fortunate to live in a cooperative living center, where other working people have organized together and bought the house before developers bulldozed it. i was not telling you that you needed to learn to organize...i was applauding the efforts of working people for finding the ways they have to succeed (ie: riseshares, skillshares, etc).
youre right, its not always enough. we do need to make systematic changes. that was what the roiginal article was about. there are large, deep-running flaws in the way governments treat working people. there is no doubt about that.
i still believe that the only way we can accomplish that change is to organize. working together we can accomplish alot...alone, we are helpless.

... 12.Apr.2005 15:37

...

> most of us have bad credit

Damn right. Mass "home ownership" (of funny little urban lots with no intrinsic land value) is no solution to poverty, it's a consciously conceived divide-and-conquer strategy to distract SOME people from their identities as wage slaves and convince them that they've got the same interests as the people running Weyerhaeuser and City Hall. It's not available to everybody, and it's not supposed to be.

Conflicted 12.Apr.2005 17:15

Own it

I can understand peoples anger about being a renter and seeing their neighborhood change because the same thing has happened to me. But its a fact that the more people who own homes the more the residents have a stake in their neighborhood. Until I bought my house (something which was complete science fiction for most of my life) I naturally never was that invested in where I lived, because obviously I was just passing through and hey why even paint your room when someone will raise the rent and you'll be moving in a month. I think the main problem with our country is that people are no longer able to buy a modest home for them and their family.
But I have to smile because I know almost everyone railing about capitalism, evil greedy homebuyers, the gentrifiers, etc would if they could, buy a house in a heartbeat and have no qualms about it, because "they" deserve it. Being able to buy a house means you have got your shit together, you are in a stable relationship, you and your partner work stable jobs, you are able to manage your finances, you are a competent parent, have good credit, etc. Things that no one can do for you, but yourself. Most cultures recognize that the family is the most important thing and they are willing to work like mad to get a home, because then its in the family, and you build a base from theat. America is for sale, get it while its on sale.

mostly right 12.Apr.2005 17:22

gray grayair@riseup.net

A wonderful conversation here, more intelligent and respectful than most i've seen on indymedia. I just wanted to point out that while in other cities, it is true that seniors get pushed out as property taxes skyrocket, that is not the case here in Oregon because of measure 5 and 50 that limit the ability of local government to raise property taxes by only 3% a year. Don't believe me? go to portlandmaps.com and check out the tax records of any properties in the area. Houses which recently sold for $300,000 are being taxed only on $100,000 of value.

As a side note, i published a zine two years ago on the history of gentrification in portland. Less about specific ethnic history and more about real estate processes. If anyone wants an electronic version, email me and i'll send you one.

30 year mortgages : how to turn "progressives" 12.Apr.2005 18:30

reactionary on private land ownership

> But its a fact that the more people who own homes the more the residents
> have a stake in their neighborhood. Until I bought my house I naturally
> never was that invested in where I lived

Your mind has been completely colonized. Having a "stake" in the equity in your house is not the same thing as giving a shit about your neighbors. Most renters aren't ALLOWED to paint our damn rooms. Jesus.

Your life is not an investment. We all depreciate to zero at the end, baby.

this man 12.Apr.2005 18:41

is one of your neighbors

> But I have to smile

Not to my face you wouldn't.

> because I know almost everyone railing about capitalism, evil greedy
> homebuyers,

Not to mention smug sellouts

> the gentrifiers, etc would if they could, buy a house in a
> heartbeat and have no qualms about it, because "they" deserve it.

> Being able to buy a house means you have got your shit together, you are in
> a stable relationship, you and your partner work stable jobs, you are able
> to manage your finances, you are a competent parent, have good credit, etc.

I didn't realize real-estate financiers discriminated against people in "unstable" relationships or against "incompetent" parents, but I'm hardly surprised.

These are all relative terms, aren't they? Not just a relationship, a "stable" relationship! Is your relationship stable enough? Not just a job -- and not just one job either! -- are BOTH of your JOBS stable enough? Is your pile-O-money tall enough? Are you a GOOD parent? Does the Great American Credit Machine approve of you?

It's not enough to be in a relationship, have a job, have money, have kids. And the harder everybody works, the higher the prices go, and now Mom and Dad both have to work just to pay the bills. No matter how diligent everybody is, only the better half need apply. Fuck the rest of us.

Missing in this conversation: Names 12.Apr.2005 19:51

Lucy Parsons

Some organizations that do work in N/NE Portland:

Community Alliance of Tennants
ROOTS (& their white allies)
Community Land Trust

There needs to be more and more activism, but there's a lot going on already to make a)home ownership achievable, b)rent affordable, c)people of color empowered/white people better allies. Look 'em all up in the phone book, or just pay attention to the flyers that are in shops and mailboxes.

Thanks so much, bvillain. We don't talk enough about the history of gentrification and our current contributions to it in Portland.

hope my 'hood's not next 12.Apr.2005 20:21

old timer

Thanx for the history lesson, bvillian. The same things have happened in other neighborhoods and former neighborhoods. Like SW Portland near the Lair Hill Park area which was formerly occupied by immigrants in affordable housing and was laid to waste by our city planners. All the houses north of there were bulldozed then left bare for years until those horrid,sterile office and apartment towers were built. As a completely "successful" gentrification example look no further than NW Portland, also formerly a neighborhood of affordable rentals. I'm living in an undisclosed location close to town that I hope doesn't get discovered-hopefully the yuppers will find it too close to industrial noise and stink and the houses too small.

Homeowners inN/NE Portland 12.Apr.2005 20:23

I'm happy here

Isn't it possible that the people who buy in this neighborhood are buying the house, not the neighborhood? I know I fell in love with the house I bought in Boise, not the neighborhood. I have done my best to make the house look as pretty as it can, given my income. It's getting there, but the gentrifiers & crackheads who resent me for it making it look good frustrate me. I work hard for my little piece of heaven, and no amount of kvetching from anyone is going to prevent me from continuing to do so. I hate the changes to the neighborhood as much as all the oldtimers do, but it has already happened. Cash=power. Spend your money elsewhere if you don't like the businesses here, that's what I do.
I love it here and I'm not going anywhere. I hope that we can all make the neighborhood something worth staying for.

Fear and loathing 12.Apr.2005 20:37

boise bum

Fear and Loathing
Israel Bayer
street roots staff writer
April 16, 2004

Gentrification: The process of renewal accompanying the influx of middle-class people into deteriorating areas that often displaces earlier, usually poorer residents

— Merriam Webster Dictionary

"There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in dry season and rotting around the feet; impulses smothered too long in the fetid air of underground caves. The soul in sickly air. People can be slaveships in shoes."

— Zora Neale Hurston
author, 1891-1960

Headlines of North and Northeast Portland have erupted once again in newspapers across the city. For the most part, in what the city calls the most diverse neighborhoods in Portland, headlines have portrayed the region as a battleground of police shootings, homicide, and gang activity.

Of late, very rarely has the issue been talked about in the context of poverty, class, race, education, the current state of the economy and gentrification. North and Northeast Portland are not only home to many social problems most urban environments face, but they're home to a growing number of, for better or worse, hipsters, yuppies, radicals, self-proclaimed freaks, hippies, yippies and young families.

"You know, they call it urban renewal, but I call urban removal," said Charles Santos, an organizer with ROOTS, an acronym for Reclaiming Our Origins Through Struggle. ROOTS is an organization working to organize people of color in Portland. "It's a shift of people from the suburbs moving into our neighborhoods. It doesn't matter if it's the Alberta corridor or the Boise-Elliot neighborhood, the Pearl district or all of downtown, poor people are being pushed out of this city."


"They've got all these new businesses in the neighborhood (Boise-Elliot) being set up, said Santos. "I go to the video store, the coffee shop, the bar, the breakfast place, and I see no black people working in these establishments. There's something wrong with that picture."


Certain neighborhoods are designed to be kept that way in the name of urban renewal, Santos said. "When developers and the private sector come in they start making that money, money, money. It's all about that money, it always has been."

Santos is not the only person to echo these views. According to affordable housing advocates and other neighborhood members in Northeast Portland, the neighborhood has suffered from decades of segregation, redlining, racism, and false representation by the media.

"I have had discussions with long-time African-American residents who feel a sense of hopelessness about the high level of redevelopment over a short period of time," said Jason Graf, co-chair of the Boise Neighborhood Association. "A sense that their community is breaking apart and there is nothing they can do about it."

Graf suggested some creative solutions for the neighborhood. "Reducing crime through active neighbor participation is one way to coalesce as a neighborhood, because everyone feels the impact of crime," Graf said. "There has been discussion about minority business recruitment and spreading the wealth through strategic action by using tools that are available and maximizing the benefits that have the potential to increase within the Interstate Urban Renewal Area."


Patterns of history
In the '30s and '40s, the real estate industry began to define the meaning of a white segregated neighborhood as one that did not have a black-occupied residence within four blocks. Real estate agents held to their code of so-called ethics, and followed the condition on many deeds that homes in white neighborhoods were not to be sold to blacks. The result of such racial manipulation was a physical boundary dividing blacks from whites.


Vanport, a city named by combining Vancouver and Portland, was created in 1941 for the building of liberty ships for Great Britain and later the U.S during World War II. The city, no longer in existence, was sited on what is now the Columbia Slough. Vanport at one time had a population of 50,000 during the height of World War II. 35,000 people, mostly poor and jobless, migrated to the area to work in the shipyards.


By 1948, Vanport's population had dropped to an estimated 18,500 people, including 5,000 African-Americans. That year, massive floods destroyed Vanport, leaving 15 dead, dozens injured, and 18,000 homeless. It was by far, the worst housing crisis Portland had ever faced.

When the flood turned Vanport into a lake, all available housing was pressed into service, but still many  low-income people — many of whom were black — were left homeless. Some were taken in by families in the metropolitan area. The resettlement of the flood victims, in the absence of any direct action taken by the city housing authorities, created patterns of segregation with relocating  the homeless into Northeast Portland.

The 1950s and 1960s were a time of revitalization in the diverse North and Northeast neighborhoods. On the surface, this goal promised to have a positive affect on the neighborhoods, much like the Interstate Light Rail project of today.  In reality, the city of Portland leveled neighborhoods to allow for industrial growth, thereby adding to the housing shortage. For example, in the 1950s, people in the central Albina neighborhood lost their homes to the building of Memorial Coliseum and Interstate 5.


Development continues to push lower income people to the rim of the city.

"What we're seeing is low-income people from North and Northeast Portland are being displaced into suburban areas, like Gresham, Beaverton and Clackamas," said Teresa Huntsinger with the Coalition for a Livable Future.

"The communities that they are moving to are not equipped to handle the influx in poverty," Huntsinger said. "There aren't as many services for people living in poverty. One example of that is the lack of transit access for people encountering poverty."


"The county needs to allocate funds for emergency rent assistance to people outside of the city of Portland, still living in Multnomah County."  said Kelly Caldwell, an affordable housing organizer with the East Multnomah County Housing Advocates.


"Right now the City of Portland funds the Transitions to Housing program through the county, which offers a variety of services for people in poverty," Caldwell. "What is happening is that if you live on one side of the line you get services, but if you are on the other side of the line you don't get services. This is happening to the same people who are being pushed out of Portland."


Huntsinger said that  patterns of gentrification are continuing in North and Northeast. The Interstate Light Rail is one example, in that it is raising property values and pushing  lower-income families further beyond the city. The Coalition for a Livable Future has been advocating for affordable housing in the area. But, Huntsinger said, "It's too little, too late."


Ironically, one of the new stops on the Max line will be the Expo Center, formerly the North Portland Stockyard and the site of an assembly center for the relocation of Japanese-Americans  during World War II. More than 3,700 people of Japanese descent from the Portland area were detained there, many of whom lost their business and their homes due to relocation stategies by the United States government.


The line will then travel across a long viaduct over the Colulmbia Slough, the same area in which displacement occured by the floods more than 50 years ago.  It will then descend into the Delta Park/Vanport station where travelers can view a memorial of the assembly center for the relocation of Japanese-Americans.


The 1980s began a long downfall for the residents of North and Northeast Portland. The Reagan era brought high unemployment rates, homelessness, and frustration, followed by dramatically reduced property values in the neighborhoods.


Redlining in North and Northeast Portland has gone on up until the 1990s. Redlining is the practice of refusing to serve particular geographical areas because of the race or income of the area's residents. While the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1976 and the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 outlawed the practice of redlining, there is evidence that the practice continued illegally in Portland into the 1990s. Some advocates believe it still happens today.


Today, after decades of struggle, the same frustrations resonate within the minority community.


"I believe there is mistrust of city agencies, especially PDC (Portland Development Commission), from long-time residents and business owners, and that this hinders redevelopment and the creation of new minority businesses," said Graf. "A strategy and recruitment of minority business that coordinates the investment incentive from PDC and other grant programs, coupled with outreach and coordination from the African-American business association and other minority businesses, is missing in all of the gentrification of Mississippi Avenue and Boise neighborhood."


"They come and want to clean up the neighborhoods," Santos says. "The question is, who are they cleaning it up for? It sure isn't all the good people who have been screaming, hollering, and kicking for all these years to clean up the neighborhood. They jack up the prices and suddenly we're not kicking and screaming about cleaning up the neighborhood anymore. Instead, we're crying out that we can't pay our rent and we're going to have to find a new place to live."


Color coded


On any given weekend morning you will find dozens of people sitting in front of the Fresh Pot, a local coffee shop, and Gravy, a new breakfast restaurant on Mississippi Avenue, reading books and congregating among themselves. Most of them are white.


"If there were 10 black people hanging out in front of the Fresh Pot, the police would be up in here," said a woman who preferred to remain anonymous as she pointed toward Fresh Pot. "Then the neighborhood would say, 'oh, we got a gang problem. We need to clean this up.' It's OK to hang out and talk music in front of the record shop if you are white, but if it was a hip-hop record store they would say, you all are gangsters. That's racism." 


Some new residents in the Northeast have charged to the assumption that real estate agents have not properly warned new residents of the crime in the neighborhood.


"People need to do their research," said Walter Garcia, Crime Prevention Program Coordinator with the North Portland Neighborhood Services. "The tools are all out there. If I go buy a product at the store I'm going to research the product that I buy."


"I don't think that (North and Northeast Portland) are worse than any other part of Portland."


Garcia said he didn't think race had anything to do with the perceptions of the neighborhoods. Although he did say there are perceptions of the poor. "It's not a race issue, it's a social-political issue."


"The fact of the matter is we are a city and we are going to have crime," said Art Hendricks, with Portland's Office of Neighborhood Involvement. "But if you were to compare today's crime statistics with statistics in 1995, we are as safe today as we've ever been."


Hendricks went on to say he felt the mainstream media has played a major role in creating fear in North and Northeast Portland concerning crime. "If it doesn't bleed, it doesn't lead," said Hendricks. "If Channel 12 news doesn't have a violent crime to report in Portland, they'll report one in Salem. It's sensationalized journalism. Do we have calls for people shooting off guns in Southeast Portland? Yes. Does that make the front page? No."

Although, Hendricks did go on to say the police and the city often are blamed for mishaps. "Is it the police's fault for answering calls for people committing crimes? No. It's their job, that's what they do, and that is never going to change."

"We need an honest commitment to overhaul the system. We are still stuck in the 1980s in this city," said Maria Johnson with the Latino Community Network. North and Northeast Portland is one of many pockets living with the larger problems of entrenched prejudices.

"I think within the police force and in the schools we see institutionalized racism," Johnson said. "Minorities are not offered the same opportunities in our schools. Latino kids are herded through ESL programs and lose out because their skills are underestimated by the system. There are significant changes that government has to make. We hear a lot of promises from the institutions, but no implementations."

Johnson went on to say that with the police, various groups have given recommendations over the years on how to deal with different cultures, minority groups, and the mentally ill, and yet nothing has happened.

"When people look at me they say, 'oh look at that black guy,'" said Santos. "Before I'm a drummer, I'm a black drummer, and before I am a man I am a black man. I'm reminded of it every time I get on the bus."


 

Left me wanting more. 13.Apr.2005 04:43

J luminux@gmail.com

You did a great job to explain the history of the neighborhood, but you did absolutely /nothing/ to explain what's currently happening in the neighborhood.

One thing you're failing to consider is the fact that all of the businesses going into the "Renewed" Mississippi district are all locally-owned, and are often women- and minority-owned.

And, finally, economic revitalization doesn't equal gentrification. Demolishing several blocks of housing to build chi-chi condos is "Gentrification"; renovating old storefronts and installing responsible businesses isn't.

I personally don't see any problem with the way that Mississippi is headed. There are currently many plans in progress to make the neighborhood more of a "destination" instead of a blight and eyesore. Rents haven't really changed too much, and I haven't seen the racial makeup of the neighborhood change all that much.

I think you've got a vague grasp of a bigger problem, but you're pointing your finger in the wrong directions.

RE: cheap tix to mississippi 13.Apr.2005 11:44

nearres

I take issue with turkeysalads comments that there are no places to go on mississippi for members of the community. while it may be true that there is an abundance of cofffee shops on the street, there are unique stores as well as shops to provide the essentials.
many residents are happy to have a coffee roaster and brewery specific to thier neighborhood. there are clothing stores that provide locally made goods. some of the restaurants have very affordable food. and as for your $12 meal, who says that people who live in a lower income area should not have a good place to eat every once in a while. but more importantly, turkeysalad must not be looking very hard. there are two groceries on mississippi/albina ave and one convenience store. there is a community health center just south of alberta, and if you venture all the way over the failing pedestrian bridge, there's this little hospital called kaiser. located practically nextdoor is harbor frieght tools wehre you can get all the tools you need to fix your landlord's place.
my point is that if you want these places to be your own then make them yours. i work at a bussiness on mississippi and was glad to see all kinds of people coming in last summer and fall. but as time has gone on and more press coverage written, the less people from the neighborhood i see. this really does concern me because there is no way the business i work for will make it in the long run without the support of the neighborhood.
SIDE NOTE: i have gotten to know a few of the business owners on the street. not all of them are vile capalists hellbent on making a buck. for many of them what they do is their art, their passion and their dream. on the other hand there are two guys who must own 50% of the property on mississippi ave and boise elliot generally. these guys are the ones who are really benefitting whether the business survives or fails.

sorry to burst your bubble... 13.Apr.2005 12:16

bvillain

j, im sorry to burst your bubble on the claims you made, but you are incorrect in your assumptions.
as to your definition of gentrification: wrong.
according to webster:
gentrification:
n : the restoration of run-down urban areas by the middle class (resulting in the displacement of lower-income people)
counter to your understanding, it is not knocking down housing to build condos. it is "revitalizing" the economy of any area, usually one which has been red-lined by lending, to become more enticing to the middle class. this is whats happening on mississippi and throughout northeast portland.
that "revitalization" raises costs, taxes, housing prices, etc, until those who were there prior cannot afford to live there anymore.
certainly the area was neglected before the PDC targetted it for "revitalization", but this is mostly due to the fact that banks would not give the current residents loans for repair and development.
rents have increased in the boise neighborhood by large margins. houses which were renting for $3-500 in 1998 are now going for $7-900 per month. dont believe me? ask landlords in the area. (you'll have to look for them outside the neighborhood though, as most dont LIVE here)
your perception is wrong about the change in racial makeup also. what was a predominantly African-American neighborhood is now more than 50% caucasian. Soon it will approach the makeup of the rest of portland...90+% caucasian.
The former residents of Boise are once again moving further out, past Killingsworth and Lombard to try to recreate the communities being broken up around Mississippi Avenue.

And I was wondering if you could qualify your statement about the businesses on Mississippi "many of them...Minority-owned". I know of only 2 businesses on Mississippi Avenue which are minority owned, Grandfathers and Nu-rite way, both of which have discussed plans to move or close within the next year.

your comment about missippi being a "destination place" was already addressed in prior posts, but i feel i need restress the point. WE ARE A COMMUNITY, NOT A SHOPPING DISTRICT! we already have too many "destination" businesses, and too few services for people trying to live here! we dont want to have to drive or ride miles to get our groceries, our prescriptions, our bread. if businesses come here, they need to be for US FIRST! cudos to those businesses here which serve the neighborhood, but a pox on those aimed at bringing people from miles away in order to make a bottom line. they dont care a lick for the health of our neighborhood, they only care how it looks...which equates to sweeping the homeless and those who dont fit into their image of a healthy neighborhood into some distant place where they wont bother the "customers".

j, you havent "seen the racial makeup of the neighborhood change all that much" because you were not here before the change began and you refuse to see the realities and effects of your actions.

rationalization 13.Apr.2005 15:55

nowaynohow

j said:
"Rents haven't really changed too much"
depends on who you talk to, apparently
"and I haven't seen the racial makeup of the neighborhood change all that much. "
depends on who you look at, apparently

own it said:
"But its a fact that the more people who own homes the more the residents have a stake in their neighborhood."
such a minimizing, elitist, and ultimately clueless attitude. it is not a fact. it depends on how you define "stake." to you, apparently, it means $$$ investment in the property. long term poor renters, as opposed to the passersthrough you are describbing, do have a stake in their neighborhood. do poor renters want lead paint falling in their kids' cribs? no. do poor renters want to live in drafty, uninsulated houses? no. do poor renters want to continually sheild their kids from stary bullets? no. do poor renters want to live in aestetichally appealing places. yes.

own it also said:
"Until I bought my house (something which was complete science fiction for most of my life) I naturally never was that invested in where I lived, because obviously I was just passing through and hey why even paint your room when someone will raise the rent and you'll be moving in a month. " paint your room so the fricking lead doesn't fall in your kids crib! but long term poor renters invest more than just paint in their units. they invest time, energy, flower seeds, and love into the relationships they have with their neighbors, who up until now in mississippi et al have been mostly long term poor renters.

talk first? 13.Apr.2005 16:04

Nic boisena@gmail.com

It's funny how some of these comments target folks in a negative way, but do not cite conversations with the very folks they target. Claiming that a person doesn't care about the neighborhood would require asking that person first - not just assuming they are evil because they own a business.

It is nice to have this forum for discussion, but it would be better if it more clearly included the "minorities" and "poor folks" being discussed. Otherwise it is similar to the city officials trying to solve the "problems" on behalf of people they don't actually talk to complaint I read of earlier in this talking trail.

But hey, what do I know? I've earned below the poverty line most of my life and will again this year, but I love living in this neighborhood. Call me crazy. Call me a gentrifier for weeding my yard and owning a home. Accuse me of being a middle clas yuppie for working my ass of to buy a house when it seemed impossible with my bad credit. But when you do, also call me passionate about loving this community and helping neighbors when I can.

And thank you to the folks who provide a forum for this discussion. Maybe it will serve as a motivator for people to get out and talk to eachother. We gotta live together.

To clarify a point - Women owned businesses are considered "minority owned" and qualify for special minority business grants, etc. That would put Equinox, Bold Sky, Sunlan, Muddys, Pin Me, Lovely Hula Hands, Quirks and Quandaries on the minority list. The Thai place is Chinese owned. I suppose by minority, we mean "African American", yes? If so, come out and say it!

And don't worry, it won't hurt my feelings when some of you flame my comments. Let your anger out! It's healthier.


Class War 13.Apr.2005 17:58

Economic & class Racism

So many great comments and discussions, where are you all when the Boise Neighborhood meetings happen. Bring your much needed voices and talk to your neighbors and let them know that their/our community need to hear them and that the residents of Boise need to let the business community know ,what business we want to see and what businesses we will support.
Interesting comment Nic made,"To clarify a point - Women owned businesses are considered "minority owned" and qualify for special minority business grants, etc. That would put Equinox, Bold Sky, Sunlan, Muddys, Pin Me, Lovely Hula Hands, Quirks and Quandaries on the minority list.
To go back a bit in history, white women were given voting rights before black/African american , and also that animals were given national rights before black americans got the privilege to vote ? You gotta love your history.
When the new condo developments go up and the new wealthier neighbors move in and the developers start corting the larger chain businesses to realize the economic potential of our cute little neighborhood, there will be a complete economic shift in the make up of the neighborhood,and all of a sudden the small cute locally owned businesses that didn't take the time to meet and listen to what services the community needed and wanted instead they waited for the condo developers to bring in their financial support,will start getting pushed out and replaced by fancier stores and bigger chain businesses, and another group will find themselves at the bottom of the capitalist feeding trough.And they'll pack their bags and take there trust funds and go and do the same thing in another economically oppresses community .Or maybe the economic crash that is being predicted will take care of it all and we are getting all worked up over nothing...Phew what a relief

Still disappointed 14.Apr.2005 02:57

J luminux@gmail.com

Alright, so I read the response to my comment. I think I was fairly misrepresented in how my comment was interpreted.

I have to point out something big: All that I've seen in this discussion is a bunch of people trying to alienate others and focus the blame on anyone but themselves. THIS IS NOT HOW YOU BUILD COMMUNITY, AND IT IS CERTAINLY NOT HOW YOU WIN ALLYS. Yes, I had to put it all in caps, because I believe that I, along with many other people, would be much more sympathetic if this conversation wasn't so hateful and condescending.

Think about it. Really. If you're a radical, and you're also a condescending jerk, then you're just a lonely, condescending jerk. Lonely, condescending jerks don't get much done by themselves. However, if you're a radical, and you also try to include other people to build a consensus for action, then you're getting something done. Chew on that for a bit before you shut people down, and turn people away from your legitimate cause. And, yes, I do believe that keeping gentrification at bay is a legitimate and honorable cause.

Now, to quote a few specific items:

>>>
j, im sorry to burst your bubble on the claims you made, but you are incorrect in your assumptions.
as to your definition of gentrification: wrong.
according to webster:
gentrification:
n : the restoration of run-down urban areas by the middle class (resulting in the displacement of lower-income people)

counter to your understanding, it is not knocking down housing to build condos. it is "revitalizing" the economy of any area, usually one which has been red-lined by lending, to become more enticing to the middle class.
<<<

Contrary to your misinterpretation of Webster's, building condos /is/ one form of gentrification: It financially "restores" an area (according to the creditors and landowners) and displaces its original inhabitants.

The fact that businesses are attracted to an area doesn't mean that the area is being sexed up for middle class punters. I certainly don't see a lot of people in Lexuses going to the N.Portland Bike Works.

>>>
this is whats happening on mississippi and throughout northeast portland.
that "revitalization" raises costs, taxes, housing prices, etc, until those who were there prior cannot afford to live there anymore.
certainly the area was neglected before the PDC targetted it for "revitalization", but this is mostly due to the fact that banks would not give the current residents loans for repair and development.
rents have increased in the boise neighborhood by large margins. houses which were renting for $3-500 in 1998 are now going for $7-900 per month. dont believe me? ask landlords in the area. (you'll have to look for them outside the neighborhood though, as most dont LIVE here)
<<<

I have a hard time seeing your point on this. The fact of the matter is that rent is increasing everywhere in Portland, and you will see that rent prices around Portland have increased in proportion with the Mississippi neighborhood. I know for a fact that the house I paid $225/month to live in, near 60th & SE Foster in 2002, would now cost me $350/month to live in. It's not just Mississippi - it's EVERYWHERE here in Portland.

>>>
your perception is wrong about the change in racial makeup also. what was a predominantly African-American neighborhood is now more than 50% caucasian. Soon it will approach the makeup of the rest of portland...90+% caucasian.
<<<

What I meant about the "racial makeup not changing" is that the once-predominant ethnic population (e.g., African-American people) hasn't been pushed out. I also can't believe that you have any hard numbers or statistics regarding the Caucasian population of the Boise district. I'd love to see a link to a PDF on the PDC's web site, if you have one.

Plus, while I know you didn't say anything in regard to this, I have to say that I don't see any problem with white folks moving into a black neighborhood. Aren't white and black folks supposed to live together, anyway? What's wrong with sharing the same neighborhood?? "Black" doesn't equal "poor", and "White" doesn't equal "middle-class".

>>>
The former residents of Boise are once again moving further out, past Killingsworth and Lombard to try to recreate the communities being broken up around Mississippi Avenue.

And I was wondering if you could qualify your statement about the businesses on Mississippi "many of them...Minority-owned". I know of only 2 businesses on Mississippi Avenue which are minority owned, Grandfathers and Nu-rite way, both of which have discussed plans to move or close within the next year.
<<<

You took my quote out of context, which changed its message entirely. Your version of what I wrote sounds like I think every business on Mississippi is minority-owned.

>>>
your comment about missippi being a "destination place" was already addressed in prior posts, but i feel i need restress the point. WE ARE A COMMUNITY, NOT A SHOPPING DISTRICT! we already have too many "destination" businesses, and too few services for people trying to live here!
<<<

Now you're starting to not make much sense. Wouldn't opening a grocery store in the Boise neighborhood also raise the land value, and raise rents? Economic interest in "your" neighborhood sounds kinda good now, doesn't it?

Plus, I have to say, to my credit, that I had practically never set foot on Mississippi before I moved to MLK & Killingsworth. But now that I live close by, I'm glad to know that there's a coffee shop, a recycled home hardware store (ReBuilding Center), a bike shop (North Portland Bikeworks), and other interesting shops that I still haven't stopped by. Dude, come on - what's the problem with having cool shit in your neighborhood?? How can you tell me that a home hardware store, that sells recycled materials for dirt-cheap, doesn't help the neighborhood? Or what about a non-profit store that teaches kids bicycle maintenance skills for self-sufficiency, and sells dirt-cheap bicycles? I can't see how that's bad!

>>>
we dont want to have to drive or ride miles to get our groceries, our prescriptions, our bread. if businesses come here, they need to be for US FIRST! cudos to those businesses here which serve the neighborhood, but a pox on those aimed at bringing people from miles away in order to make a bottom line. they dont care a lick for the health of our neighborhood, they only care how it looks...which equates to sweeping the homeless and those who dont fit into their image of a healthy neighborhood into some distant place where they wont bother the "customers".
<<<

I'm sorry to say that businesses don't exist to be free, public utilities - they exist to make money. Yeah, it's not the best system, but it's the current system. Even this grocery store that you'd love to have would be a for-profit venture. Hell, even a cooperative grocery store would exist only to make money - the cooperative owners have to eat, too!

>>>
j, you havent "seen the racial makeup of the neighborhood change all that much" because you were not here before the change began and you refuse to see the realities and effects of your actions.
<<<

Don't even dare to accuse me of anything, or assume that you know anything about me - the only thing that you know about me is that my name probably starts with a "J".

Oh, and before you write another article - try to consider whose opinions you're trying to influence in order to affect positive change. I don't talk shit to people if I want them to agree with me.

Solutions 14.Apr.2005 08:21

class struggle

This discussions seems to be getting stuck on the symptoms. Lets all just agree that we are all the first wave of gentrifiers.Now how do we stop the displacement process, which is having the biggest impact on the cultural and economic makeup of the Boise neighborhood.Of course keeping the community and national history in our minds for reference.
1)A community forum & discussion that is inviting to all our cultural and classes of residents
2) A Boise Neighborhood Association that has some teeth and has a more diverse community makeup.That the whole community can feel is in some way serving them.Which will mean taking the power that is held by the City of Portland.
3)Stopping or slowing the business and condo developments so that the residents can catch up.The businesses move fast because they have only one voice,MAKE MONEY.The residents and community board move slowly because there are lots of voices and the city of Portland laws hold us back. Build in a process that makes sure any new businesses have to get approval from the community board before opening, this will also include new housing developments.Right now our only recourse against businesses that we do not feel serves us is to not spend our money their,which is now why developers like Ben Kaiser want to bring in the people that will ,without regard for the residents that are looking for community serving businesses.So that we as a community can be apart of the process from the beginning, not once they have there plans .I'm a surprised that all the businesses and developers do not do this out of respect for the community already.
4)Support businesses that bring jobs for the residents of the Boise Neighborhood. Maybe a survey of the community businesses at present would be a good tool.
5) Keep the economic and cultural diversity alive.For every high income condo development we support an affordable development.
6) Be a residential voice in the community by attending the Boise Neighborhood Association meetings.www.boisevoice.org

presentation this friday 19.Apr.2005 12:24

gray

I thought y'all might be interested in this presentation at PSU at the
Urban Studies Building:

Kelly Howsley
Colloquium: From Urban Pioneers to Corporate Settlers: Commercial
Gentrification in Portland
Date: Friday, April 22
Time: 10:15-1:15pm
Room URBN 312

and one more thing 19.Apr.2005 13:49

gray

just so that we know what we are talking about:

according to the
2000 "Census Tract 34.02, Multnomah County, Oregon" which is basically the area from skidmore to freemont, mississippi to mlk, these are the racial stats. Look it up yourself if you want at
 link to factfinder.census.gov


White 34.3 percent
Black or African American 46.3 percent

and, um, if you look historically, it's always been racially mixed, bout 50/50 since the 50's. that's what has made portland so unique compared to other cities in our "ghetto"

2000 Census ? 21.Apr.2005 08:12

Resident

Gray, thanks for the info on the talk at PSU.As far as the 2000 census goes, does it show the statistics of how many physical addresses did not take part ?
I was living in the Boise neighborhood when the census collection was happening and alot of the poor,working/non working class were very suspicious of what the information collection was going to.Alot of residents did not take part, so becareful when using federal or state % surveys.They are often not the true makeup or information on a community.These are alot of the same figures the city uses to promote private high dollar development over section 8,low income or I all we love this term,affordable housing (affordable to who and what income braket).

Why Are we so shocked ? 28.Apr.2005 16:03

North Mississippi

I remember when I first moved up to North Mississippi a cop car stopping alongside me and asking, "why are you living in the Compton of Portland with all these niggers", and then took off.But now a few years later with the help of the police,Boise Neighborhood association and the Portland Development Commission(PDC), and of course all the developers and all the new minority white women owned entrepeneurs,local,cutsie,wootsie stores that do not serve the surrounding community and endless supply of restaurants and bars that cater to the white affluent culture.There is no black culture left along North Mississippi for the affluent white culture to fear...Thanks Kay Newell(The Light Bulb Lady)Sunlan,thanks Janet Bower (PDC's community steering director)...In the words of the resident G.W Bush....Mission accomplished....

Pros and Cons of development 14.May.2005 17:04

Angela Barreras

I'll be the first to admit I didn't read the entire article. I was searching the internet about the revitilization of the MLK and Freemont area when I came upon this article.
I shall soon be living near MLK and Freemont with the purchase of my first house, and like many homeowners in the area, I am looking forward to the improvement of MLK and Northeast in general.
Having lived in Portland for the last ten years, mostly on the west side, the effects of revitalization are glaringly obvious to me when I visit North Portland. As a person of color I feel a deep divide between the primarily white cafes and restraunts that exist in NOrth pOrtland. There seems to be a great deal of tension between the various color groups in NOrth POrtland more than in other areas of the city I visit, and certainly more so than where I live.
Despite the drawbacks of revitilization, I believe it is important to attempt to improve the areas of the city that don't have enough business and could use more diversity within their neighborhood.

If revitilization is not the answer to improvement what it

memories of growing up in Albina neighborhood 10.May.2012 14:22

Guy W. Champion cap_champ@yahoo.com

A number of years ago acquaintances asked me to become involved in contributing to an oral history of my old Albina neighborhood. At that time I was still raising our many kids but now, well,I've got time. Not sure where to start. I was born in 1938 and am told we lived in a few places before moving to Albina. All my memories of being a child are connected to our home at 3538 N. Albina, the schools I attended, Boise Elementary and Jefferson High, and my friends and a few memorable teachers. I remember my best friend in 4th through 7th grade was a boy named General Jones. His real name was Peter but since his dad had died in the war his mom had nicknamed her boys General, Major, etc. I remember one of his younger sisters was just called Sista, but her real name was Estelle. Mrs. Jones remarried. General family and many others moved into the neighborhood after the Vanport flood and within a few years Boise"s enrollment had doubled. The school went from being very white to very mixed. I could have cared less as I was a street kid and as long as there other kids to play or get into mischief with I was happy.
If anyone is interested in my ramblings let me know.